Outside of an eyeful of striking cosplays and the chance of encountering a celebrity incognito, one of the biggest draws to San Diego Comic Con is the Marvel Studios panel. Out of all the studios and networks showing exclusive footage, doing Q&As with cast and creatives, and announcing upcoming projects, none bring the house down quite like Marvel. They’re the ones that get all bloggers and all of social media a buzz. Whether having Robert Downey Jr. fawn over the crowd and vice versa, Tom Hiddleston appearing in costume as Loki, or confirming the cast of The Avengers by bringing every single major team member out on stage. There is no question they are the King of Hall H. But will that all change in 2015?
It’s hard to imagine, in recent memory, a San Diego Comic Con that Marvel Studios didn’t dominate. It’s annual Saturday even panel was appointment viewing for both fans and movie industry reporters because of the sheer power of the Marvel brand. Whether it was the first appearance of the Avengers cast together at the 2010 con, or the 2012 announcement of the next phase of Marvel Studios movies, or the 2013 unveiling of the Ant-Man test footage, Marvel, like the Avenger Hawkeye, always hits its mark. So what’s this news that Marvel may sit out this year’s edition of nerd Mecca in southern California? Uncertain, but the news comes from a very reliable source.
So who is this source, you’re asking. Well, have you ever heard of James Gunn? Yes, the Guardians of the Galaxy director said in a Q&A on his Facebook page that “Marvel isn’t going so I’m not sure I will either.” And before you can say, “That’s not true. That’s impossible!” Gunn assures you via Twitter that it is, and it is.
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) March 7, 2015
But why? Why Marvel, why?!?! There’s no reason to distrust Gunn, as Marvel’s new golden boy thanks to the reception of GOTG, it would make sense for Marvel Studios to take a bit of a victory lap even if they have no real new news to announce. Likely though, there’s a practical business reason why they may want to skip SDCC in 2015: they don’t need the help.
Obviously, being seen at Comic Con – be it a comic, movie, TV show, novel or other project – will give your project a boost, but Marvel Studios is now in a place where it can boost itself (so to speak). An event last October in Hollywood where they announced Phase 3 has a standalone and it dominated the headlines for days. Heck, Marvel doesn’t even need an event, they can issue a press release, like last month’s announcement that a deal was reached with Sony for the rights to Spider-Man, and that’s all it takes to make news organizations scramble.
But there are other business considerations. For instance, Disney, the corporate godfather of Marvel, will be holding its own fan-event, the bi-annual D23, this coming August. Also, perhaps Disney wants to keep the focus of their Comic Con commitment on their other big fan property: Star Wars. Instead of Marvel goodies, maybe Saturday night in Hall H will boost news from the Star Wars universe including footage from The Force Awakens, and/or other announcements concerning the proposed spin-off films like titles and plot details.
The least likely option, although still plausible, is that Marvel maybe be throwing their esteemed competition a bone. Warner Bros./DC Entertainment will undoubtedly be pulling out all the stops for Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, both of which will come out next year. Maybe Marvel execs are feeling sorry for them and ceding the Comic Con ground to give them a fighting chance for some press. I guess we’ll see…
San Diego Comic Con will roll out at its new earlier date, July 8-12, later this year.